Thomas Sowell

Although socialism has long claimed to be for the poor, it has probably done more damage, on net balance, to the poor than to the rich. After all, the rich have enough money to leave the country if they think the socialists are going to do them any serious harm.

Some of our own rich have already had their money leave the country, to be sheltered from the higher taxes that limousine liberals say we should all pay. Meanwhile, the liberal media give them kudos for their selfless advocacy of higher taxes on higher income people, forgetting that these are not taxes on wealth.

Most of the people in the upper income brackets are not rich and do not have wealth sheltered offshore. They are typically working people who have finally reached their peak earning years after many years of far more modest incomes -- and now see much of what they have worked for siphoned off by politicians, to the accompaniment of lofty rhetoric.

The rich have learned to adapt socialist policies to their own benefit. For example, the city of Riviera Beach, Florida, is planning to demolish a working class neighborhood under its power of eminent domain, in order to prepare the way for a marina for yachts, luxury condominiums and an upscale shopping district.

What will the city of Riviera Beach get out of all this? More taxes from higher-income people, enabling local politicians to spend more money on programs to attract votes.

Meanwhile the rich get rid of lower-income folks without having to pay them the value of their homes and businesses that will be demolished. As in so many other cases, eminent domain is socialism for the rich.

Theoretically, those whose homes and businesses are demolished will get the "just compensation" to which the Constitution says they are entitled.

In reality, just announcing plans to demolish the homes in an area will immediately demolish part of their market value. Even if homeowners are compensated for whatever value remains when their homes are actually demolished -- which can be years later -- they have still been had.

For businesses, compensating them for the value of their physical assets -- which may or may not include ownership of the place where their businesses are located -- does nothing to compensate them for the often much larger value of the clientele they have built up over the years but who are now scattered to the winds by neighborhood demolition.

This game doesn't work the same way in rich neighborhoods. Not only can the rich hire big-bucks lawyers to fight city hall, why would city hall want to get rid of upscale taxpayers, who are often also big donors to political campaigns?


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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